Linda Gorchels blogs

Product management

6 Product Manager Keys to Building Credibility

We’ve all heard that product managers are “mini CEOs”—or words to that effect. They have to influence a lot of stakeholders. To do so, they have to be credible. How can you build credibility? Roll up your sleeves and earn it. Here are a few ideas to help you.

Do Your Homework

Product managers deal with strategies and tactics. Big-picture issues and small details. Broad market demands and individual customer nuances. Internal politics and external realities. It’s hard work, and cutting corners rarely succeeds. Relevant information on customers, product plans, and financial projections are staples of your job. 

Industry knowledge is a must. Learn the broad “rules” in your industry, along with detailed knowledge of competitive positions. Pay attention to trends that could impact current and future product sales.… Read the rest

What are the Strategic Imperatives for Product Success?

The title of this post was a question recently asked on Quora. It included a link to this video, which stated that successful products had to fulfill three criteria: awesome, cheap, and profitable.  Hmm…

I’d like to take my answer in a different direction.

Strategic imperatives are the “big picture” aspirations or goals that guide product management. The extent to which products fulfill the aspirations, or fit the desired strategy, determines their success. Let’s consider a few examples.

Example One: Political Campaigns

Assume you are in charge of a political campaign, i.e., your “product” is a politician. Your strategic imperative is to win the general election. But the first win may need to come from beating opponents in a primary.

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Are Generalists More Open-Minded?

Generalist or Specialist?

Are you a generalist, or a specialist, or both?

It’s fair to say that on any topic you fall on a continuum from no knowledge, to some knowledge, to proficiency. Depending on the topic, there may be more or fewer people in each category. (The green curve shows fewer experts on the topic, and the red curve shows more.) In addition, you are likely to be at different points of the curve for different topics.

Regardless of the curve’s shape, who do you expect to be more open to new information—experts or uninformed people? It depends on who is more curious and open to new viewpoints. That said, being a generalist—a person in the middle of the curve—may have advantages.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (part four)

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (part three)

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (Part Two)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (Part One)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

Product Platforms: Definitions and Pros and Cons

There are two very different types of platforms: digital platforms in technology, and physical platforms in other fields.

Digital Platforms

A digital platform is an ecosystem designed to enable different groups to co-create value through “plug-and-play” capabilities. The technology infrastructure of the platform touches customers and developers beyond the firm’s boundaries. LinkedIn, FaceBook, Google and Amazon—in fact most technology businesses—have platform-based business models.

Physical Platforms

Physical platforms in other industries refer to product family or product portfolio platforms intended to reduce manufacturing and development costs for new products. In this case a platform is a common architecture, collection of assets, component designs, subsystems, or other elements shared by several products.

Example Automotive Platform Strategies

The automotive industry is well-known for its use of shared platforms across various car models.… Read the rest

Developing the Business Case for New Products

Developing and defending a new product business case can be an intimidating task for many product managers.  Let’s start with two common myths.

Myth One:  The more a precise business case is, the more accurate it is.

Ironically, this is not true. Business cases rely on assumptions and estimates about the future: forecasted sales, customer intent, and expected costs. Adding more decimal points may provide the appearance of precision, but the reality is there is still a lot of subjectivity to the numbers.

Myth Two: A successful business case always gets funded.

A successful business case is one that helps make the right decisions. Keep in mind that the purpose of the business case is to determine the business potential for a product concept.

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Top Skills for Product Manager Success

Welcome to 2019! And your first steps to learn about successful product managers.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are—or would like to be—a product manager. What questions do you have entering the new year? Perhaps you wonder if you have what it takes for success. Or what type of company is right for you. Maybe you’re looking for that magic tool that will make your life easier.

I’ll touch on several of these topics this year, with a product management post on the first Friday of each month. (On the remaining Fridays, my posts will address cover other topics.)

Today’s topic focuses on what makes product managers successful. There are ample variations of this question on Quora. There are so many, in fact, that some answerers have recycled prior responses.… Read the rest